The restaurant locking up diners' mobile phones

"Phone Off, Fun On", a Singapore McDonald's initiative.
"Phone Off, Fun On", a Singapore McDonald's initiative. Photo: Shutterstock

"Phone Off, Fun On" the sign above 100 small plastic lockers reads, before promising a fun "family playdate".

This McDonald's restaurant in Singapore has taken the extraordinary step of offering to lock up diners' phones in a bid to stop families being glued to their phones during meal time. 

Instead of staring at their screens, families are being encouraged to chat to each other while eating out.

The restaurant will take care of your phone.
The restaurant will take care of your phone. Photo: McDonald's Singapore

"As a popular restaurant destination for families, we have observed that the use of mobile devices during meal times may sometimes get in the way of family bonding," said McDonald's Singapore Director of Brand Communications and Care Linda Ming, according to Channel News Asia

"This 'Phone off, Fun On' initiative is part of our efforts to advocate family togetherness and encourage families to spend quality time together."

The decision to install the lockers at its Marine Cove restaurant was made after a survey conducted by McDonald's examined parents' views on mobile phone usage.

It found that 60 per cent of parents agreed the use of mobile devises during meals meant less interaction with loved ones.

They surveyed 302 parents and 98 per cent of parents and 91 per cent of kids admitted using devices when out with their family.

"A recent survey we carried out found that parents are willing to develop better self-discipline in terms of mobile usage and put their families first," Ms Ming said.

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"Based on our findings, we believe these new initiatives in our restaurant will nudge families towards rediscovering quality time together."

To help families better connect, the transparent lockers, which can hold up to 100 devices, are free to use. They even have staff on hand to remind people to grab their phone before leaving the restaurant.

While the measure might seem extreme, it is probably a worthwhile idea with research showing more people than ever are constantly distracted by their phones.

According to a Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey in 2016, Australian adults check their phones around 30 times a day. Other research has found that figure could actually be as high as 150 times a day.

McDonald's Singapore have not yet released any details about the popularity or success of the phone locker initiative.

However management say they are gathering feedback from customers before deciding whether to roll-out the initiative in other stores.